People don’t open hotels in central London much any more, do they? We can’t recall the last time someone we know decided to take the plunge and open 70 rooms of luxury just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, but maybe that’s just us.

The reason we bring this up is that London institution The Goring has just had a complete refurb of its kitchen and dining room. Still independently owned by the same family who opened it over 100 years ago, and the favoured hotel of, among others, The Princess of Wales, you couldn’t get much more traditional if you tried. 

The flipside of this is that expectations could tend towards stuffy interiors, old-fashioned food, or snobby waiters. Luckily The Goring avoids all three of these, with the dining room balancing plush carpets, thick curtains, and an abundance of cloches with irreverent details like a painting of a monkey drinking a cocktail on one of the walls, or the promise of visits from a Shetland pony at certain times of year (sadly absent during our dinner). Service is also impeccable, with staff balancing being both attentive and friendly, and always on hand at the right time to explain a dish or top up a drink.

None of this would matter if the food wasn’t excellent, but Executive Chef Graham Squire and his team have taken full advantage of a fully refurbished kitchen to more than justify their Michelin Star. The duck liver is decadently rich, but offset with sweet strawberries and a pistachio brioche which is subtle enough to let the other ingredients shine. The Orkney scallops are likewise perfectly balanced, being so mild that the peas and lemon verbena are equally flavoursome parts of the dish, rather than just garnish.

Throughout the menu, the focus is on seasonal produce from the UK (some of the herbs are even grown on-site in a very swish cabinet which reproduces the day-night cycle using grow lights), with the results being a meal which feels unbelievably fresh and high-quality. The lobster omelette, apparently a Goring classic, is beautifully fluffy and works well enough that you can see why they’ve kept it on the menu for decades, while the lamb hot pot, on the surface the more traditional of the two dishes, arrives in an almost deconstructed form, each ingredient given space. It means that instead of one dominant flavour, each ingredient has room to breathe and be appreciated – although there is still a small hot pot alongside, to ensure you don’t miss out on the classic pie experience. A special mention also goes to the side dishes, with a buttery truffle potato purée and barbecued asparagus with Hollandaise sauce both being delicious enough that they could be the star course of a tasting menu without breaking a sweat.

Desserts round things off nicely. A chocolate mousse cake with hazelnut and salted caramel isn’t nearly as sickly as it sounds, and a rhubarb and lemon shortbread is the perfect size to satisfy that end-of-meal craving. Both also come with the obligatory sprinkle of gold leaf which seems almost a prerequisite of a certain class of restaurant, although we can’t say it adds too much to the flavour.

The Goring is so central and has such a storied history (not to mention the royal connection) that they could easily rest on their laurels and become a haven for rich tourists to drink overpriced tea and live their Downton Abbey dreams. Instead, they offer a genuinely inventive menu in a classic, but not stuffy, dining room. Yes, it’s at times eye-wateringly expensive, but it’s obvious where that money’s going – you wouldn’t expect a high-class, Michelin-starred hotel to start doing things on the cheap, would you?

For more information on The Goring, see here.

15 Beeston Pl, London SW1W 0JW